2023 Live Streaming Conference

Be-Twitching Scholarship: Power, Action, and Live Streaming

Serious Play and The Digital Cultures Collaboratory’s 2023 Conference


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Samantha Blackmon, Purdue University


April 27th & 28th, 2023 hosted on Discord and Twitch


Digital live streaming practices have shifted from micro-casting for niche audiences in the 1990s to a global phenomenon. Major streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch, applications like Discord, streaming software like OBS, audio interfaces, and pandemic at-home living have facilitated the continued expansion, commercialization, and professionalization in live streaming creators, audiences, and researchers.


Academic interest in live streaming has similarly expanded. Scholars have highlighted resistances and counternarratives to the intersecting hegemonies of whiteness, homophobia, and masculinity in live streaming spaces through theories of intersectional tech (Gray), hegemonies of play (Woodhouse), and the magic circle of whiteness (Fletcher). Taylor and Cullen, among others, have highlighted sexist and anti-feminist practices in digital and physical live streaming environments. Other researchers consider the intersections of live streaming and a variety of topics, including drag performance (Persaud and Perks), Chinese gay dating apps (Wang), nonhuman agency (Johnson and Jackson), co-presence (Diwanji et al.), and televisual viewing practices (Spilker et al.). Educational scholars have also discussed the efficacies of live streaming in classroom environments (Payne et al.; Pozo-Sanchez et al.).


Be-Twitching Scholarship builds on these various approaches to facilitate an interdisciplinary conference about live streaming, with an eye toward scholarship that interrogates power structures and praxis in live streaming environments and networks.


Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Social activism and protest through live streaming
  • Fan labor and fan activism
  • Issues of material and digital access
  • (De)colonization and digital space
  • Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color streamers, communities, and practices
  • Multilingual live streaming practices and communities
  • Queer streamers and audiences
  • Transnational, transcultural, and/or global live streaming practices
  • Live streaming on social media and networking sites
  • Live streaming as/and public knowledge
  • Histories of live streaming
  • Political and cultural economies of live streaming
  • Play and playfulness
  • Platform governance and regulation
  • Live streaming for/as education
  • So much more!


Structure of the Conference


To take full advantage of the platform’s affordances and continue our mission of public scholarship, the conference will take place over two days and will be live-streamed. On Thursday, April 27th, presenters will share their work on the conference Discord, which will be live-streamed on Serious Play’s Twitch channel. The following day, presenters will meet at live streamed roundtables on Discord where they will discuss and share ideas about the connections between their work.


Recordings of the presentations and roundtables will be available for further viewing on the Serious Play YouTube channel. Our goal is to use these platforms to facilitate multiple, scaffolded conversations to share and extend knowledge and build community between presenters, audiences, and everyone else involved with the conference.


How to Submit

Submissions are now closed.


Please reach out with any questions to Serious Play at seriousplayuwm@gmail.com




Although our conference will be hosted online, we still reside on and are using material resources that come from unceded lands and territories. We acknowledge the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee resides on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present.

Land acknowledgments serve as a starting point for education and advocacy. Learn more about this land acknowledgement through UWM’s Electa Quinney Institute and visit the Indigenous Game Developers website for more information about Indigenous scholars, activists, and game makers.


We also appreciate the generosity of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee English Department, Anthropology Department, and Center for 21st Century Studies for their continued support of our work



Works Cited

Cullen, Amanda L. L. “Just on the Right Side of Wrong: (De)Legitimizing Feminism in Video Game Live Streaming.” Television & New Media, vol. 23, no. 5, 2022, pp. 542–552. https://doi.org/10.1177/15274764221080937.

Diwanji, Vaibhav, Abigail Reed, Arienne Ferchaud, Johnmicael Seibert, Victoria Weinbrecht, and Nicholas Sellers. “Don’t just watch, join in: Exploring Information Behavior and Copresence on Twitch.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 105, 2020, pp. 106221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.106221.

Fletcher, Akil. “Black Gamer’s Refuge: Finding Community within the Magic Circle of Whiteness.” The Routledge Companion to Media Anthropology, edited by Elisabetta Costa, Patricia G. Lange, Nell Haynes, and Jolynna Sinanan, Routledge, 2022, pp. 368-378. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003175605.

Gray, Kishonna L. Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming. LSU Press, 2020. https://lsupress.org/books/detail/intersectional-tech/.

Johnson, Mark R. and Nathan J. Jackson. “Twitch, Fish, Pokémon and Plumbers: Game Live Streaming by Nonhuman Actors.” Convergence, vol. 28, no. 2, 2022, pp. 431–450. https://doi.org/10.1177/13548565221074804.

Payne, Katherine, Mark J. Keith, Ryan M. Schuetzler, and Justin S. Giboney. “Examining the learning effects of live streaming video game instruction over Twitch.” Computers in Human Behavior vol. 77, 2017, pp. 95-109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.08.029.

Persaud, Christopher J. and Matthew E. Perks. “Beauty From the Waist Up: Twitch Drag, Digital Labor, and Queer Mediated Liveness.” Television & New Media, vol. 23, no. 5, 2022, pp. 475–486. https://doi.org/10.1177/15274764221080912.

Pozo-Sánchez, Santiago, Jesús López-Belmonte, Arturo Fuentes-Cabrera, and Juan-Antonio López-Núñez. “Twitch as a Techno-Pedagogical Resource to Complement the Flipped Learning Methodology in a Time of Academic Uncertainty.” Sustainability, vol. 13, no. 9, 2021, pp. 4901. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094901.

Spilker, Hendrik Storstein, Kristine Ask, and Martin Hansen. “The New Practices and Infrastructures of Participation: How the Popularity of Twitch.tv Challenges Old and New Ideas about Television Viewing.” Information, Communication & Society, vol. 23, no. 4, 2020, pp. 605-620. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1529193.

Taylor, T. L. Watch Me Play. Princeton University Press, 2018. http://watchmeplay.cc/.

Wang, Shuaishuai. “Chinese Affective Platform Economies: Dating, Live Streaming, and Performative Labor on Blued.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 42, no. 4, 2020, pp. 502- 520. https://doi.org/10.1177/016344371986728.

Woodhouse, Taylore. “Live Streaming and Archiving the Hegemony of Play.” Popular Culture Studies Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, 2021, pp. 20-38. https://www.mpcaaca.org/wp- content/uploads/2021/10/SI3_Woodhouse.pdf.